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SATRAN - Satellite Tracking Antenna

3D-printed, wifi-enabled and android controlled antenna rotator.

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A compact satellite antenna tracker with android app. Available within the next few months as an affordable kit, but it's also possible to 3D-print the open source files yourself!

This is a continuation of an old project of mine, when I built a simple satellite antenna tracker with an android app that calculates the position of any satellite using its "kepler elements", and controlling the Az-El antenna rotator to track it across the sky. During a few late nights together with two other ham operators, we built a crappy but functional prototype from spare parts. Now some years later, I decided to redesign it from the ground up as an affordable and easy to use kit.

Controller

The onboard microprocessor is an ESP8266 NodeMCU board with wifi-capability that can be controlled manually in a web-interface or automatically through an android app.

Motion will happen with the help of two Nema17 stepper motors, and the rotator has a platform that allows for many different kinds of antennas or a small satellite dish.

Time schedule

Kits should be available for purchase starting in february/march 2021, and STL-files for 3D-printing will be offered for free online for those who can 3D-print themselves. 

If you have any request or feedback, please let me know! 

/ SM7YSA Daniel  www.danaco.se

SATRAN-BOM_2021-01-05.pdf

Bill of materials

Adobe Portable Document Format - 2.05 MB - 01/07/2021 at 13:57

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  • Hack in Black

    Daniel Nikolajsen14 hours ago 0 comments

    Nothing beats a semi-gloss black finish. All the 3D-printed parts are also supposed to be black when I start production but I had a lot of white filament that had to suffice for the prototype. 

    Also I am awaiting a shipment of nice black screws for the finished kits, the plated ones on the prototype are just stuff I had laying around.

    As you can see I have also fitted the first CNC-cut sides in black plastic, and also painted the top aluminium cover. 

    The firmware is also coming along steady so hopefully I can present you with a demonstration video within a week.

  • Time to test the firmware

    Daniel Nikolajsen2 days ago 0 comments

    The very first prototype circuit board has been soldered together, and the first trials have worked perfectly! 

    However, there are a lot of features left to code for the "firmware". But as of now it can create a wifi access point with a setup page, and then store your wifi credentials and run a web server on your local wifi. Also it can turn two stepper motors without any hickups, but I couldnt try the limit switches today since i was missing some resistors. 

    All in all, everything is going according to schedule...

  • The circuit boards are amazing!

    Daniel Nikolajsen4 days ago 0 comments

    Today the PCBs arrived from china. Absolutely amazing! It almost angers me how skilled and cheap the asians are, but for my project it's crucial to be able to buy a batch of prototype circuit boards without breaking the bank.

    Everything was beyond expectation. Perfect fit, precision and hair-fine screen print on top. Time to get the soldering iron out and put together the very first prototype...

  • Prototype get its casing

    Daniel Nikolajsen6 days ago 0 comments

    Now all the mechanicals for the first prototype is finished, perhaps just a slab of black paint on the top aluminium cover.

    Also DHL sent me a notice that the PCBs probably will arrive after the weekend, so I can start testing out the software. That is IF the circuit boards work as intended of course... *fingers crossed*

  • Parts list, IKEA-style

    Daniel Nikolajsen01/07/2021 at 14:01 0 comments

    Every kit needs a great bill of materials so you can check that you've got all the parts you need. The first draft of my BOM is now finished, but it's possible the final MK1 release will have some edits before launch.

    You can find the full BOM as a pdf in the project files or on www.danaco.se

  • Setup for dummies

    Daniel Nikolajsen01/04/2021 at 18:13 0 comments

    The NodeMCU code is slowly coming alive, while I wait for the first batch of PCBs to arrive from the factory. The board will have a small reset button that turns the controller back into an access point. Then you can connect directly to the wifi on the satellite tracker, access the setup page directly with your browser and supply the correct Wifi settings. 

    This way you don't need any special equipment or USB-connection for setting it up. Just plug it in and go, almost like a chromecast.

    There are some different software choices on the market for controlling Az-El rotators, and it will hopefully be possible to control the hardware with more programs than my own android app. 

    What software do you prefer? Leave a comment if you have any suggestions.

  • My first PCB, not too bad

    Daniel Nikolajsen12/27/2020 at 20:16 0 comments

    Electronics are definitely not my strong suit, but for the first time ever I've designed a PCB-layout and I must say, it looks quite good don't you think!?

    I am using the free software EasyEDA. Not the simplest to work with, especially when you don't know the name of all the components. But after a few hours I got the hang of it. 

    And just as I wrote that last sentence, I realized that I need to add a reset push button to it for the wifi setup. Damn. Back to the drawing board!

  • Love your worms

    Daniel Nikolajsen12/25/2020 at 19:30 0 comments

    It's getting somewhere! Christmas is over and the project continues. Today I designed the worm gear that will drive the elevation of the antenna. This is great not only because it makes the drive stronger, but also allows for the motors to be stacked on top of each other to save space, to make everything fit inside the housing.

    Soon it's time for some electronics!

  • Only small balls here

    Daniel Nikolajsen12/22/2020 at 21:59 0 comments

    Today I got some more prints finished and started mounting the bottom turntable. Hopefully all the ball bearings won't give too much friction.

    For the entire build to be easy assembled, I just realised that it needs a custom expansion circuit board with connectors for the processor and stepper motor drivers etc. There are a few online circuit board design tools and chinese producers that offer PCBs for only a few dollars a piece. Something I havent tried before, but I'm sure I'll sort it out somehow...

  • 3D-printing has started

    Daniel Nikolajsen12/20/2020 at 18:49 0 comments

    Nothing beats the little 3D-printer when prototyping. I have a Creality Ender-3 that recently replaced my older TronXY, and I absolutely love it!
    Three parts have been printed so far, the rest still being designed. The first parts make up the turntable, with tracks where the BB-pellets will go. Normal bearing balls can be expensive, but 4,5mm metal airgun bullets work just as fine and for only 10USD I got 1500pcs, enough for over 10 builds.

    The sides of the turret will be made from CNC-cut PVC foamboard which takes a lot less time than 3D-printing, also the bent top will be made from thin aluminium sheet metal and the top bracket/antenna mount will be in steel.

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